Rafael Nadal says his back is 'holding up well' after he eased past Fabio Fognini at the Australian Open.
Nadal came into the tournament with a lower back strain that forced him to miss the whole of the ATP Cup, and his serve speeds were noticeably down in the earlier rounds of the competition.
However, he looked a lot closer to his powerful best against Fognini, and he has confirmed he is feeling okay physically now.
"It's holding up well," Nadal told the press after his win over Fognini.
"I already said that if I didn't improve my back I couldn't achieve what I had come here to look for. Five days ago I would have taken to be where I am now.
"I have taken a physical and tennis step forward. I am among the eight best in the world.
"The first important tournament of the year, but there is everything to be won.
"The speed of the second serve against Fognini has been the same as that of the last year and a half and that is something important for me."
Nadal will face Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarterfinals, and it is something he is looking forward to.
"He is young, strong and with a lot of energy," Nadal said. "But games like today help me get in shape."
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